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tv   Asia Insight  PBS  April 8, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm PDT

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♪ ♪ an annual parade in singapore. mounted on a float, the figure
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of an elderly man honors the hard work of seniors who have devoted their lives to the building of singapore, marking the 50th anniversary of the country's independence. next year more than 14% of singapore's entire population will be over the age of 65. with a birthrate of just 1.19%, the nation urgently needs to build a new social system. singapore's first prime minister, lee kwan yew, the country's loved and respected founding father once said, if the mind set is that when i reach retirement age 62 i'm old, i can't work smi moany more, i have to work, i'll just sit back, now is the time i'll enjoy life, i think you're making the biggest mistake of your life.
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with government support, the elderly have started going back to work, as if to take lee's message to heart. >> woo! >> you must work. no work, no money. ♪ >> in this episode of asia insight, we explore the finances of elderly singaporeans who are urged to return to the workforce. singapore boasts asia's highest
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nominal gdp per capita. despite its small land mass and limited resources, the country has created an affluent society by attracting foreign firms and the world's wealthy with its low tax rates. but these tax rates have made it hard to provide generous public welfare services, which require a higher tax income. now that singapore is starting to age, the need for better welfare has increased. in late february 2015, singapore press holdings, which has significant influence in the nation held a unique photo shoot. ♪ most of the people being photographed are over 60.
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the oldest is 73. this is a contest held as part of an employment campaign for the elderly. citizens vote for a workplace hero, someone who is passionate about their job. [ speaking in foreign language ] at 13, tang began as an apprentice at a jewelry store. once retired, he was rehired with a lifetime contract due to his rich knowledge and excellent
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customer skills. singapore's legal retirement age is 62, but the government requires that companies propose reemployment to employees who eapab o continuing. this year, upper limit to 67.g public servants s the gernment launched the reemployment scheme in earnest
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2012. now there are employment agencies dedicated to senior workers. >> so what i'm looking for is able to share my experience and give my kwled on the food. >> my case, i wouldn't want to rest, to be nothing. i want to help. i would be able to mentor others. >> today family celebration. celebrate family. you come. okay. bye. i'll see you. >> bye-bye. >> most vacancies are for
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janitors managerial positions are rare. singapore's retirement center, the central prove dent fund is tough for those with little savings. the government guarantees a certain amount of are on pension accounts. this means the less savings the elrly have the less pension they receive. this professor has been researching this self-help-based welfare system. >> aging situation has been away by the government some years ago, so it has gradually beenbe policies. of course the first policy is the prove dent fund. so the low income, many retire
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at 55. so in about ten years' time, at the team they contribute it was very low. because at that time they were estimating that your life-span after retirement would be about ten years, and you retire at 55. but now we live longer. averages say 55, but cpf savings is still very small amount. >> before the retirement system was reformed, cpf could be withdrawn freely after the age of 55. some elderly use the money to expand their businesses or invest. others purchased homes. ♪
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this man withdrew most of his cpf 15 years ago to purchase a new home. >> in the evening i come home. daytime i work. >> monday to sunday, right? >> yeah. no off. i pay 1,000 plus. not sure. >> the average household income in singapore where double income is champion is estimated at $2900 to $3700 u.s. a month.
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tay's income comes to about $950 including interest remaining on his cpf. his newly purchased home is one of the unique housing units from hgb offered only to singaporean nationals. he currently lives with his son and daughter-in-law and is paying off his mortgage with his son. his home is 100 square meters in size, with a living room, bath, kitchen, and four other rooms. tay and his wife have been dependent on his income since she quit her job and became a full-time homemaker when the couple married.
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tay's son works on kmis as a sales representative, but it's not a lucrative job. he as also expecting a child this year.
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>> i do not like to stay in the house. i don't like to stay in the house. i like to work. of and one thing i working, i can talk to passenger. my mind is, my brain work won't spoil, correct? >> yes. >> you can't depend on children. have to depend on yourself. >> the retirement age for taxi drivers is 75. tay plans to work without taking any days off until then. this woman who lives with her son works five days a week.
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an is employed at a food court near raffle place station, the busiest area in singapore. she makes $900 in u.s. dollars a month. it's hard work and keeps her on her feet.
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an used to work as a nurse in a national hospital. she says her husband, who died six years ago, never once paid for living expenses. after retiring, she worked as a coffee shop waitress and also as a cleaner. at the moment, she lives with her 34-year-old son. including cpf, her monthly income is roughly $1600 u.s. dollars. she pays all her own living expenses. last year, however, her son suddenly announced that he wanted to move to the philippines. he says he's married a local woman and has already built a home there.
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her son is leaving next year. although an once considered moving overseas with him, she can't bear the thought of adopting to life in a new country, nor does she want to live in singapore all alone. so now she wants to move into a nursing home. in the past, children would care for their parents in large families, but economic advancement has led to smaller families, with fewer children caring for their parents. to maximize familial support, the government has established a new law. >> in 1996, there was the meant nance of the parents act that came into enforcement, okay? this was 1996. now since then, as of 2013,
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there have been more than 2,000 claims that have been made. now what happens is that if an elderly person finds that his or her child, you know, can help him or her and if the child is not, can he go to the tribunal. the government is still cautious about giving out too much help. because if they do, then everyone will, you know, clamor to the government and say i need help, then the government will have to become sort of a welfare state, right? singapore has to resources. we have to ensure that each individual takes care of himself. if he can't, then he's got to depend on the family. >> as the government promotes independence to reduce its burden, the society is aging. many elderly now live or die alone. so the government has begun to make use of already existing public housing units to create
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new communities. buildings and floors dedicated to the elderly are being built within public housing where many young families live. senior activity centers play a central role. such centers are run semi-privately, with staff available to help 24 hours a day. the centers only accept low-income elderly people who have no families. chw's father passed away when she was young. forced to sore herself, she was
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unable to grad wait elementary school. she has worked in in cargo handling and in factories since a young age and never married. with very little income, she was not able to save money for cpf. whw's room is 30 square meters. these rooms are usually shared by two residents. rent is $60 u.s. a month, including utilities. breakfast is provided free of charn, but residents must pay for their own dinners. so she dips into her limited savings to pay these expenses, supplemented occasionally by the center.
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each room is equipped with emergency buttons so that facility staff can rush to the resident's aid if needed. there are piles of unopened food packages. these were donated by neighbors and volunteer groups and are distributed to the elderly to help them save as much money as possible.
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this facility only accepts residents who can take care of themselves. rather than providing for absolutely everything, the center aims to create an environment where the elderly can live within a community with minimal assistance. this is a new form of welfare. ♪ the government is now actively seeking input from social entrepreneurs to help the elderly. helen has launched an employment agency for senior citizens. it has been well received, creating new job opportunities.
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>> we've been to a very interesting place. and i'm very excited to bring you there. it's called churches at renter. i wanted this like a showcase. if i say they must bring other people. this >> this is a rehabilitation hospital built within a residential area. it focuses on care for the elderly, joining forces with nursing homes and welfare facilities. helen has opened a cafe, called chatters, on the second floor of the hospital. chatters opened three years ago. the hospital cafeteria used to operate here but was unprofitable. then helen came up with this
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idea. the employees are mainly in their 50s and 60s. the oldest is 71. chatters' biggest appeal is that it offers wholesome, homemade meals at affordable prices within the hospital. business is booming. helen wanted to provide a workplace which seniors could run themselves.
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>> this is what chatters is about. so i created chatters. ch achl hchl c-h-a-t-t-e-r-s. the c stands for caring. h is for honest, a positive attitude. trust, we can't spell success without you. >> employees meet up regularly to discuss how to run the business. >> french fries. can we reduce the portion of rice? >> unless they complain. >> no. no. >> so maybe i give a small one. >> give small bowl.
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>> not full. >> employees have established many of their own rules. one is that you can take a break any time you want unless the cafe is busy. the cash register has big fonts and colorful buttons for those with poor eyesight. employees can work any day they wish for up to seven hours. shifts are based on consideration for others. the work ethic stresses enjoyment and not pushing yourself too hard. and much importance is placed on smiling. >> this cafe was set up really to benefit whoever comes to this hospital. when we were looking for an operator to run a cafe down in the hospital, although we didn't
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specifically look for any type, but when we met helen, and we realized ha she was trying to do, we fully, you know, supported. >> helen's goal is to create a society where everyone can enjoy life for as long as possible. >> i want to create people to look into themselves, rediscover themselves, take time to know themselves better, and they can get ready to find something that's meaningful for them for the rest of their life. and i think that people need to feel that they, somebody is expecting them to do something. and i think that creates some empowerment in them, and a sense of responsibility. i think this intergenerational help is the next wave, is the next wave, you know. all embrace and help each other
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to become a better society, because we are mindful of each other. it's all about the mind-set. when we change our mind, the state of our mind, we can change many, many things now. and many more people should embrace this. >> singapore's challenge is to create a society where the elderly can live in comfort. by encouraging its elderly to be independent and not rely on a welfare state, the country is hoping to forge a new path to the future. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
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♪ hello there. and welcome to "newsline." it's thursday april 9th. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. japan's emperor and empress are about to begin the second day of their visit to the pacific island nation of palau by remembering a tragic moment in history. they're going to fly to a nearby island, site of one of the fiercest battles during world war ii. emperor akihito and empress michiko began their first visit to palau on wednesday. they attended a banquet that was hosted by the country's president, tommy

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